Paris-based Marie Brizard Wine and Spirits (MBWS) experienced a 4.3% sales drop during the first half of its 2020 financial year, with double-digit declines in Europe due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On an organic basis, total sales for the six-month period were down 4.3% to €135.4 million (US$159m).
Sales for MBWS branded businesses in Eastern Europe dropped 17.2% in the six months to 30 June 2020, hampered by a 46.4% decrease in Poland.
Sales were also down 16% in Western Europe, Middle East and Africa (WEMEA). However, Asia Pacific and the Americas both posted growth of 20.5% and 32.3% respectively.
Turnover from the group’s bulk alcohol sales experienced strong growth of nearly 23.9% to reach €54.8m (US$64m). The rise was attributed to strong increases in bulk sales in Poland and the Baltic countries to meet “surging demand for anti-bacterial gels due to the Covid-19 crisis”.
Andrew Highcock, CEO of Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits, said: “During the first half of the year, we focused on protecting our employees and partners whose health and safety remain a priority. As expected, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic worsened in the second quarter for our branded businesses.
“The unprecedented level of bulk sales contributed strongly and mitigated some of this decline. We are resolutely pursuing the implementation of our strategic plan aimed at restoring the group’s profitability on a sustainable basis. The recently announced plan to sell our activities in Poland is fully in line with this plan, while providing them with a new impetus.
“The macroeconomic impact of the persistent uncertainties about the global health situation require us to remain cautious about the business outlook until there is better visibility. Nevertheless, we are confident about the relevance of our strategic choices.”
During the second quarter of its fiscal year, the group’s sales were affected by lockdown measures and closures implemented as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In the WEMEA cluster, revenue totalled €23.1m (US$27m) for the three months to the end of June, down 21.4% compared to 2019. However, MBWS noted that its spirits business “showed some resilience in face of the Covid-19” and that sales were helped by purchases in the off-trade, driven by its William Peel brand.
In Central and Eastern Europe, sales were “heavily affected by the effects of the health crisis” and dropped 41.6% during Q2 to €11.5m (US$14m).
Fortunes for the Americas were more positive and the group said the region benefited from the group’s strategic partnership with Sazerac to post second quarter growth of 29.4% to reach €5.6m (US$6.6m).
In Asia Pacific, sales were up 38.6% for Q2 and reached €0.8m (US$0.9m), which MBWS said was in part due “to the resilience of off-trade activities”.